Feature: Microsoft E3 Briefing 2012: Our Best Bits

So the Microsoft E3 Conference 2012 has come and gone without a single fist-bump (thank goodness), but what were my best bits and which bits will soon be forgotten?

I personally thought the conference got off to a flying start, with some really strong titles and some incredible looking footage. Sadly after that it seemed that it was hard to keep up the momentum and with a lot of service updates to cover, the pace invariably suffered.

For those that were unable to catch the E3 Live Stream (or be there in person), I will run through my best bits in order below.

Halo 4
Microsoft’s E3 showcase kicked off with a live-action trailer for Halo 4. The clip showed a crew of a UNSC vessel being pulled through a portal in space,  disabling the ship’s engines.

The scene then cut to in-game footage of the same ship flying low over the series protagonist,  Master Chief, on a collision course with the ground. The footage then showed Master Chief trekking through a jungle whilst doing battle with our old friends, the Covenant, before an entirely new enemies appear and start to attack the Chief.

These scenes were really exciting, with the new enemies seemingly working more as a unit than previous foes. They also gave viewers a taste if some of the new weaponry in game, namely the Forerunner Rifle and the Scattergun.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist
Next up, we see some gameplay from the next Splinter Cell title, Blacklist. This looked absolutely great and I was excited to see the return of Sam Fisher as he infiltrated a terrorist camp in Iraq, before single-handedly annihilating everyone in it.

It was also announced that Splinter Cell: Blacklist will utilise Kinect Voice Recognition. The full extent of this is not yet known, but in the demonstration, the player called out “Hey, over here!” to lure an unsuspecting guard to a ledge, before pulling him over it.

Fable: The Journey
Then came a short gameplay trailer for Fable: The Journey. Although I’m not a huge fan of the series since Fable 3, the Kinect functionality in the new title looks well implemented and rather original.

Gears of War: Judgement
We were also treated to a short clip of the next Gears of War game, Judgement. The trailer showed a whole lot of burning cities and the return of Baird and his good friend The Cole Train. No actual gameplay footage at this stage, but we’ll let you know if any surfaces over the coming weeks.

Forza Horizon
Then it was the thumping Dub-step soundtrack and highly desirable cars of Forza Horizon. This extended trailer showed us all of the stunning visuals and incredibly slick gameplay that we have come to expect from the Forza series.

New Services and Updates
Following that, we were talked through some of the new services and updates coming to the Xbox LIVE Service.

In summary, Bing search on the Xbox will receive Kinect voice recognition for several new languages and the Xbox Music service will be relaunched with the inclusion of 30 million songs from day one. To me this sounds like the end of Zune music and video, correct me if I’m wrong.

We were also informed that new live streaming services will be added, including Nickelodeon, ESPN and NBA.

However, the main announcement for this segment had to be the introduction of Xbox Smart Glass. This will be a new service available through Windows, Android, and iOS tablets and phones.

Smart Glass will allow users to control games, films and music on their consoles, through their touchscreen devices (iPad, Android/iOS/Windows Phone etc), whilst showing additional information about progress.

Smart Glass will also enable the mobile devices to act as controllers for the  Internet Explorer web browser, which will launch on the Xbox 360 later this year. How cool is that?

Tomb Raider
At this point, the Xbox streaming service started to struggle a bit, which led to a lot of freezing and some loss of audio. Once it had resolved itself though, the audience got a real treat.

The lengthy gameplay video showed the new Lara Croft taking on some thugs in the jungle with a bow, whilst claiming and jumping like a true tomb raider.

This new footage confirmed the new direction in which the series is going. Lara is now looking much more like an explorer and less like a glamour model. I think this is great and I’m sure mature fans of the Tomb Raider games will agree, it’s just what the series needs.

Black Ops 2
The conference ended with a gameplay demonstration from the next Call of Duty title, Black Ops 2. My enthusiasm for Call of Duty seems to diminish with each new release. However, I was pretty impressed by the footage of Black Ops 2.

Although I thought the demonstration dragged on a bit, I really liked the looks of some of the new technology on offer in Black Ops 2, including the Sniper Rifle with Backscatter technology (the same as body scanning equipment at Heathrow airport).

Hopefully, the futuristic warfare will bring something new to a series that, to be frank, is getting a bit samey.

The Sum Up
So there you have it. Sadly, no mention of Grand Theft Auto 5, FarCry 3 or Skyrim Dawnguard, but a pretty eventful E3 for Microsoft none the less. Lots of great games, a few new technologies to further enrich our Xbox experience and not a Kinect-wielding, fist-bumping child in sight.

The full live stream is available through Xbox.com/E3 and below is my favourite part of the conference, The Halo 4 live action trailer and demonstration.

My personal highlights were Halo 4, Splinter Cell: Blacklist and Tomb Raider. Please let us know about your favourite bits and if there were any disappointments.

Author: James Sterling

Associate Editor (Game) for PopBucket, avid gamer and educating folks about the Wilhelm Scream since '98. Show him some word-love.

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